The Loyola football team’s run to the State championship game is putting a hamper on the Ramblers wrestling team.
The Ramblers begin the season without some key team members in the lineup.
Head coach Christopher Stephens has dealt with this issue in the past, but it still causes a problem with the team’s start.
“A lot of these football guys haven’t been wrestling for a while,” said Stephens. “They’ll be here for a few weeks and other guys will have had three to four weeks of practice already. That’s been a concern of ours for the last three or four years because the (football) team has been making the semifinals.”
Seniors Michael Paloian, Tom Mulroe (152 pounds) and Philip Spagnolo (heavyweight) will miss their team’s first two dual meets, with Paloian being a linebacker, Mulroe a defensive back and Spagnolo an offensive lineman on the football squad.
Paloian (30-10 in 2010-11) is coming off of a regional championship at 171 pounds, and will most likely be wrestling at 182, though he’s entering the season at 195. The senior captain is entering the season with 62 career wins and will look to guide his team to what his head coach hopes will be a regional title.
Loyola also returns senior Santonio Cathery (30-14 last season), who has had a busy offseason.
Cathery (160) wrestled in more than 80 matches and qualified for nationals in Fargo, N.D. The senior captain went 4-2 at the tournament and was an overtime match away from becoming an All-American.
Stephens is also excited about juniors Colin Skinner (132/138) and Jack Tower (152; 21-15 in 2010-11), who were both a win away from competing at the same event as Cathery.
Skinner (25-20 last season) was a sectional qualifier in his freshman year, but was unable to repeat last season after placing fourth at regionals.
The Ramblers have some depth, but the coaches are concerned about the cluster of kids in the middle weight classes.
“We’ve got a lot of good guys that are at 152 and 160 and we’re about three deep,” Stephens said. “We’re going to have to find ways to get those guys into the lineup. Some guys are going to have to bump up weights or cut down.”
Loyola returns a pair of juniors that both missed time during the 2010-11 season.
Pat Dancer (132/138; 23-19 in 2010-11) finished his season in February after breaking a hand at regionals, while David Kennedy (160/170) missed all of last season, as he had knee surgery.
Although he was out of the lineup last season, Kennedy was a starter during his freshman campaign.
The Ramblers also will look to sophomores Nico Couri (106), Alex Lopez (113/120) and Kevin Dolick (145) to contribute on the mats.
Stephens and Co. will be trying to qualify four or five wrestlers to State this season, and the coach believes he’s setting them up to be successful.
“They’re just going to have to believe in themselves,” Stephens said. “At this point of the season, I’ve developed a schedule so that when we get to regional time, it should be easy. Their confidence will definitely be up at that point of the season.”